TXT locked down a spot on Asian Junkie‘s year-end list (hypothetically … you know, if I ever get around to doing one again) with “0X1=LOVESONG”, which has aged incredibly well over the months. Thankfully, they have continued on with this sound on “LOSER=LOVER“, and it’s a positive sign when the main thing I dislike about both songs is their titles are a pain in the ass to type.
Obviously the song was released almost a month ago now, but I must’ve blacked out at the time of its release and only found it a couple weeks ago or so, and then was lazy enough to only write a review for it now. So sue me.
The most exciting development from “LOSER=LOVER” is that they appear to be making the pop rock/pop punk sound their own and not just dabbling in it, and as such they’ve ended up delivering by far their two best releases.
Contrasting with “0X1=LOVESONG”, this is much more of a straightforward pop rock track, continuing to maintain playful road trip energy but with a hint of melancholy to it. Yet despite being an uncomplicated sound, it is executed extremely well, capturing the hopeful but angsty nature of teen love and carrying the general theme of celebrating youth, something their big brother group are familiar with. It coincides with where the members currently are in their lives so it all meshes seamlessly.
At times “LOSER=LOVER” does border on falling into early-00s pop rock clichés, and the chorus isn’t quite as strong this time around, but there’s enough modern upgrades and polish to set it apart. Sure, you’ll wish they went more punk than chill in terms of soundscape at times, but you’ll find there’s a surprising amount of memorable melodic moments in it, from the elongated “runnnnn” to a chanted refrain that reads cringey on paper but is catchy enough in song to make me not care. Regardless, the true star is the growling, unhinged pre-chorus burst of energy that they lean into as much as was demanded. Not sure how the borderline yelling punk-affectations are received by other listeners, but for me it’s a standout as it gives them a defining feature among the sea of similar vocals.
A direct comparison to “0X1=LOVESONG” is a bit unfair as that’s one of the better songs released this year, but while “LOSER=LOVER” doesn’t quite reach those lofty expectations, it is a great follow-up that continues to help define TXT’s concept, energy, and sound as a group. While this doesn’t have to be the only sound they do in the future, I hope it remains in their repertoire going forward as it’s really helped them reach new musical heights and sets them up extremely well for whichever direction they branch out toward from here.